Basket Case

They came off slave ships in Charleston,

Slave Ships to Charleston, SC1

clad in chains,

The buyer.jpg

and stripped naked of everything except the courage they needed to accept their new fate.

As families in West Africa, they relied on each other, but far from home on distant shores those bonds were broken. Husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters were separated and independently prepped for sale, bringing new meaning to groomed for success.

preparing slaves for sale1

The slave mart in Charleston, was the go-to destination…

Old Slave Mart Museum entrance

for traders to wrangle the best price,

The Price of a Human Being1

as human beings resigned themselves to their new owners and an unfathomable situation.

Imagine the shock and despair they must have felt, rolling down the Avenue of Oaks at Boone Hall Plantation for the first time in slave carts,

Oak Avenue

wondering about the cluster of buildings by the side of the road…

Slave quarters

Slave quarters1

that would become their future shelter…


as they approached the paddock…


and the manor house.

manor (2)

Boone Hall Plantation of Mount Pleasant, SC continues today as one of America’s oldest working farms, still producing crops after nearly 340 years of activity.

Also noteworthy, Gullah-Geechee heritage continues with sweetgrass basket-coiling skills that have sustained through five generations of descendants of slaves.

sweetgrass baskets

Original roadside stands from the “hayday” of basket production still dot the Route 17 landscape, luring everyday customers and tourists to inspect the wares.

roadside stand (3)

However, the trend has traveled to the Charleston City Market,

Charleston market

where the demonstration of sweetwater basket-making is routine…

sorting sweetgrass

selecting sweetgrass

and sales are brisk,


with up to 300 weavers who remain dedicated to the craft.

basket maker

At this time, dwindling supplies of lowcountry sweetgrass are protected, and can only be harvested by bonafide ancestors…

Charleston coastline

guaranteeing a steady stream of basketry to remind us how sweet the courage of a people can be, and how crooked their path to freedom.

marsh grasses

museum attendee

35 thoughts on “Basket Case

    1. Good question. Immense sadness in the beginning, but after a time there is a desensitizing, almost numbness to the plight of these people. And then a transformation to an educational experience, and then an inspirational feeling from the courage to persevere.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Of course I didn’t anything of this before I saw this post. Being from India we don’t get to read much of America’s history in our textbooks. But this literally sent a shivering down my spine. Although I don’t know why that website (the one you discussed on WordPress Daily post) didn’t allow your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are few parallels in world history. Perhaps you are familiar with apartheid in South Africa. (Nelson Mandela was a civil disobedience protege of Ghandi.) Otherwise, imagine India being subjugated by the British until 1947.


      1. Yeah exactly. Actually the war with Pakistan was mainly based on religious communities and Kashmir (which is a heated issue until now)
        Omg! 🙈 You know so much about Indian history too…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh! That’s why. 🤔 I too have interest in history but those date sucks. Apart from that history is quite interesting and I’m too curious to know much about Hitler. However, the books sometimes leave me amazed because there are times when I disagree with what is written in them. As they said, History is written by winners. Well, sometimes I doubt it when they showcase Hitler as a too cruel person, or maybe he was but I’ve my own theory that if history is written by winners and Hitler lost the war and killed himself then maybe these people just changed everything according to themselves. I don’t know though but the reality can only be revealed by meeting the people who were there at his time, though I doubt if someone would be alive by now.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You should stream through India once. You’ll get to know a lot about it. You know, what is written in books is sometimes not accurate. I mean, sometimes you need to roam yourself to know the hidden things. Isn’t it?

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      4. I have toured Delhi, and Manali, trekked the Himilayas, and visited Agra. I realize that it’s such a small part of your country, but I am running out of time with so much more of the world to see..


      5. Yeah that’s also right. We’ve so little time with so much to explore. I hope you enjoyed being here. Even Steve Jobs came in India to visit the Himalayas to find peace & solace and maybe (Yes! Maybe) it helps him in developing Apple.

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